Running Technique Workshop

understanding running mechanics

Resources

Stretches, Activation Drills and Strengthening Exercises (Intermediate)

Stretches

Remember, prior to your run do a 5 to 10 minute slow jog before stretching.  Hold stretches for 5 seconds and repeat each 3 times.  

After your session, hold the stretches for 30 seconds.

Gastrocnemius

As shown, place back leg with foot facing straight ahead.

Slide foot back or move hips forward to increase stretch.  

Feel stretch high up in the rear calf.


Repeat to opposite side.

Soleus 

Step closer to the supporting object.

Bend the back knee while keeping your heel in contact with the ground.

Emphasise putting the weight through the ball of the back foot.

Feel the stretch lower down in the calf/heel of the rear foot.


Repeat to opposite side.

Hamstrings 

Adopt position as shown.  Keep forward leg straight with toes pointing up towards you.  Keep the back straight and lean forward from the hips.  Rest your hands on the supporting bent knee.  Feel the stretch in the hamstring and calf.


Additional Stretch for Peroneals and Tibialis Posterior:

To stretch the muscles at either side of the lower leg and around the ankle.  From the same position,  keeping the forward knee locked straight ahead, turn foot inwards and down, hold, then outwards and up.  Repeat to opposite side.

Sprinter stretch

Adopt position shown.  Place both hands either side of the forward right foot.  Slide left foot back until you begin to feel a stretch.  This position is a combination stretch targeting the right soleus, hamstrings, groin and glutes and the left quads and hip flexors.


Repeat to opposite side.

Quads stretch

Catch right ankle in right hand and attempt to keep knees together.  Pull right foot to buttock and push both hips forward.  Feel a stretch in the front of the thigh.


For a further stretch, while in the stretch position, clench the right buttock (this posteriorly tilts the pelvis serving to further lengthen the quadriceps muscle).


Repeat to opposite side.

Glutes

Lying on your back, place your right hand on your right knee and your left hand on your right ankle.  Pull your right knee and ankle across to the left shoulder to feel a stretch in the right gluteal/hip area.  Make adjustments to the amount of knee pull or ankle pull to feel the stretch in different areas of the hip. 


Repeat to opposite side.

Hip flexors

Adopt position shown.  With your right knee directly underneath your hips place the left foot in front.  Position the left leg so that an angle of 90 degrees is formed at the ankle, knee and hip.

Now attempt to "posteriorly tilt the pelvis" or in other words, tuck your tailbone underneath you. To help you do this try a) clenching the right buttock b) flattening your lower back and c) drawing in your belly button.

Feel the stretch in the front of the right hip and thigh.

For a further stretch, slide your left knee forward.

Repeat to opposite side.

ITB (ballarina stretch)

With your left hand on your hip, counter top or back of chair (for support), step your left foot over your right and reach with your right hand over your head to the left.  Allow your hips to slide out to the right.  Feel a stretch all along your right side/torso, hip and outer thigh.


For an improved stretch allow the right foot to tilt up onto its outside edge.


Repeat to opposite side.

Activation Drills

Remember:  make sure you are well warmed up before commencing these exercises.  Do over a 20 meter distance.  Walk back to the start position after each.  Repeat 3 times.  Best time to do them: prior to a speed session or half-way through a long slow run.

High Knees

As per video (click to play). 


What we're looking for here is a snappy cadence but not rushed.  Speed forwards is not the key but rather high knees and a quick leg turnover. Keep your upper body in a running posture, tighten your lower abdominals and stay tall.  Attempt to achieve a height in your knee lift so that the thigh reaches the horizontal.

Pitfalls to avoid: leaning backwards, dropping your hands, tightening your calves, reaching forward with your feet

Butt Kicks

As per video (click to play).


Here we want to see the heels making contact with the buttock - if this can't be achieved then perhaps you need to work on your quads and hips flexor flexibility.  Again,  Speed forwards is not the key but rather a snappy cadence. Keep your upper body in a running posture, tighten your lower abdominals and stay tall.


Pitfalls to avoid:  leaning forwards, dropping your hands, rigid feet/toes.

Wood Chop

As per video (click to play).


What we're focusing on here is the ability to co-activate the glutes and calves of the stance leg along with the hip flexors of the drive/swing leg.  It is a big challenge to maintain balance along with good posture and control. This is not a speed drill.  Aim for an aggressive knee drive and imagine you really want to smash that imaginary piece of wood!


Pitfalls to avoid: rushing, collapsing through your lumbar spine, and eh...falling over...

Fast Feet

As per video (click to play).


Cadence, cadence, cadence.  This drill helps activate those "fast twitch" muscle fibers.  To run faster and more efficiently we want to increase your foot contacts with the ground per minute.  However, at the same time we want each foot to spend less time in actual contact with the ground.  That's what this drill is all about.


Pitfalls to avoid:  scrunching down through your abdominals, hunching shoulders, lifting feet too high.

Strengthening Exercises

For best results perform twice weekly after a run.  Do 3 circuits and focus on correct technique and alignment.

Front Plank

60 second holds

Side Plank

45 second holds

Single Leg Squat (Pistol Squat)

Do in front of mirror to self assess alignment.

Remember:  Keep your weight on the heel and keep the kneecap in line with the 2nd toe.  Aim to keep your knee over your ankle as you squat backwards through your right hip.

Progress depth as able.  Try to eliminate any wobble. (tip: try putting a chair behind you and aim to touch your bum off it before returning the the start position)

10 - 15 repetitions each side.

Caution:  your body will want to cheat by a) twisting the foot outwards b) sinking your hip outwards or allowing the knee to drift too far forwards...so watch out!

Lunges

Again, good to practice in front of a mirror initially.  Perform as shown in the video.  Take a large step forward with the right foot while at the same time sinking down from the left knee to within a few centimeters off the ground.  The aim is to achieve an angle of 90 degrees at the ankle, knee and hip of the forward leg.  Don't let the forward knee drift over your ankle.   Keep your hands on your hips for stability or use light dumbells in your hands.

10-15 repetitions each side.

Bent Knee Calf Raises

Initially, start by placing a fingertip on the back of a chair to help with balance.  Stand on one leg and bend the knee to approx. 30 degrees from straight.  In that locked position go up onto the tiptoes and back down - smooth and controlled.

10-15 repetitions each side.

Progress to doing without hand-held support.